Bouyoucos Conference on Inositol Phosphates in the Soil–Plant–Animal System

Rationale & Aims

Theme of the meeting

Considerable research effort is being directed towards improving the availability of inositol phosphates in animal feeds, yet the biological, chemical and physical interaction of inositol phosphates in soil remains poorly understood. Given the widespread adoption of dietary modifications in animal production, there is an urgent need to improve our understanding of the behavior and mobility of inositol phosphates in the environment and their biological availability in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The meeting aims to address this in a multidisciplinary context, and will focus on three key topics: 1) analysis of inositol phosphates in environmental samples, 2) current research on inositol phosphates in animal nutrition, and 3) the fate of inositol phosphates in the environment.

Major environmental issues

There are many issues of interest. Inositol phosphates are the major constituent of the organic phosphorus found in soils and sediments, but occur in forms that exist nowhere else in nature. These compounds accumulate even in the presence of extreme phosphorus limitation, which raises fundamental questions about the adaptive evolution of organisms that synthesize and metabolize inositol phosphates, and their contribution to the development of stabilized soil organic matter. There is ongoing effort to assess the availability of inositol phosphates to plants, with recent development of transgenic plants which exhibit enhanced capacity for their utilization. The fate of inositol phosphates in the environment, especially in regions with high animal densities, remains unknown, as does their impact on eutrophication of receiving waters. Concurrently, significant advances are being made in the analytical technology required to determine inositol phosphates in environmental samples, but these are not always accessible to the scientists who need them.

Aims of the meeting

Despite the interdisciplinary approaches needed to address the issue of inositol phosphates in the environment, research remains isolated in various disciplines. This meeting will bring together the world’s leading experts on inositol phosphates in a truly multidisciplinary context to exchange results and ideas, and to unify directions for future research.

By synthesizing perspectives from microbial, plant, animal and soil scientists, the meeting will advance understanding of inositol phosphates in the soil system and generate collaborative interdisciplinary research to address key themes. The results of the meeting will be disseminated through a book with the title of the meeting, containing review chapters from invited speakers. This will provide a state-of-the-art summary of knowledge, and lay the foundation for future research on inositol phosphates in the environment.

Biochemical research on inositol phosphates in animal nutrition is at the cutting edge of this discipline, but research on the environmental impacts of this technology lags far behind. This meeting therefore represents a unique opportunity to address this in a multidisciplinary context.